EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: The Lowdown Drifters Mix Classic Country and the Psychedelic 70s in “The Ballad of the Reef Shadow”

Stacie Hestand – Raised Rowdy Contributor

If you’ve been following along with us for the past few months, you know that we can’t get enough of the Washington state based Lowdown Drifters – their sound is entirely their own, and it stands apart from everything else releasing in the modern country music scene. The four-member band (guitar player Ryan KleinDarin Jones on lead guitar, Richard Williams in the rhythm section, and lead singer “Big” John Cannon) has released three rock-solid singles over the past few months, each of which highlight a different facet of the group’s versatility and talent (you can read about two of them here and here). The latest add-on to the band’s momentum is the saltwater-soaked “The Ballad of the Reef Shadow”, written solely by the Drifters’ very own Ryan Klein. Vibrant and evocative, the single caters to the imagination by setting a scene that dips, bends, and warps its way through artfully distorted guitars, foghorns, and ocean mist.

Showcasing his creative bent, Klein told us a little bit about how he arrived at the intersection of fact, fiction, and legend to pen this single: “The same way that history is written by the victors, stories become lore by surviving long enough to be enhanced, exaggerated and distorted by the teller, often turning the truth into a secondary concern. The Reef Shadow was a wooden trawler that lived most of its life in Marysville, WA before changing hands between family friends and ending up anchored off of the coast of Camano Island. It would be much simpler to say that the dual tragedies of being beached and sinking in the summer of 2016 were due to a negligent knot or a faulty bilge pump but that is where fact ends and fantasy begins. With the help of an active and hallucinogenically charged imagination it’s easy to picture the Reef Shadow set free from its long suffering chains by a mid afternoon flurry of comets or pulled to the depths of Davy Jones locker wrapped in the grasp of a Kraken. The truth we may never know but the soul, and the story, of the Reef Shadow live on in the song…Take a ride on the “high” seas and below where classic country influences tangle with the psychedelic sounds of the 70s creating a sonic journey rivaling even the most salty of fish stories.”

Echoing the song’s delightfully off-kilter perspective (“Now I’m a shadow on a reef, laying under the waves…Davy Jones’ words just got the best of me”), Cannon’s distinctive vocals rise to the occasion as they oscillate between drawn-out swells and punctuated, staccato-like delivery. The single’s original concept, arrangements, and razor-sharp imagery pull listeners in with a siren song of sea monsters and steel guitar, making this whimsical trip to the bottom of the ocean one you won’t soon forget.

“The Ballad of the Reef Shadow” is set to release everywhere this Friday, September 4th, but we’re proud to give you all an exclusive early listen here at Raised Rowdy:


Be sure to check out The Lowdown Drifters’ website for merch or follow them on Facebook and Instagram to keep an eye out for updates.


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